Phoenix Rising – PTQ San Diego Report

Hello all, this is a report and analysis of the ManaWerx Modern PTQ that happened this past weekend. I am a very big fan of the Modern format even though it is a little too combo oriented for my liking right now, and this is coming from a combo player. I enjoy this format simply because it is so open and there is so much that is unexplored in this format. I’ve played “fair” decks like Jund and Zoo, to control decks like the Nakamura Gifts deck that came out of the first PT which I still feel would be a great choice if Punishing Fire didn’t get banned after this event, and Esper Teachings a very toolbox-like control deck. For this PTQ however I chose to play a combo deck, specifically Kiki-Pod.

Here’s the 76 I played at the PTQ:

Creatures (30)
Birds of Paradise
Noble Hierarch
Wall of Roots
Ethersworn Canonist
Phantasmal Image
Qasali Pridemage
Deceiver Exarch
Izzet Staticaster
Kitchen Finks
Harmonic Sliver
Eternal Witness
Restoration Angel
Murderous Redcap
Glen Elendra Archmage
Zealous Conscripts
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

‘Spells (8)
Chord of Calling
Birthing Pod

Lands (16)
Arid Mesa
Misty Rainforest
Grove of the Burnwillows
Gavony Township
Copperline Gorge
Temple Garden
Sacred Foundry

Lands (7)
Steam Vents
Hallowed Fountain
Stomping Ground
Fire-Lit Thicket.
Sideboard (15)
Sowing Salt
Avalanche Riders
Path to Exile
Obstinate Baloth
Magus of the Moon
Aven Mindcensor
Linvala, Keeper of Secrets
Ancient Grudge

This deck is certainly a blast to write up in a rush if you do not get to the PTQ on time with all of it’s one ofs. The object of this deck is to get your 5 drop, Kiki-Jiki on the board at the same time with either Deceiver Exarch, Restoration Angel or Zealous Conscripts to make lethal copies of the creature Kiki-Jiki is “paired” with. The Zealous Conscripts main allows you to steal one of your opponent’s creatures to sacrifice to your Pod to search for Kiki-Jiki to kill your opponent. The reason why I say lethal copies of the creature and not infinite is two fold. First, you cannot have an “infinite” loop in Magic, There must be a finite number of iterations to be repeated (ie: the reason why 4 Horsemen is banned in Legacy.) Second, with the rise of RB Burn, and the continued prescence of Jund, Rakdos Charm can kill you in response to the lethal attack, which is why you should only go one or two over what your opponent’s life total is. This problem is more for when you are using Deceiver Exarch as it only has 1 power, while the other two creatures you can use both have 3 power. There are several various chains that will get you to the desired result which Ari Lax covers in depth in his Kiki-Pod Primer over on
the select side of StarCityGames. However, I do want to touch on some of the cards Ihave in my maindeck.

The Qasali Pridemage is definitely the 61st card in the maindeck, and could be cut if you feel affinity and to a lesser extent Eggs will be a smaller factor in the next Modern event you play in. It’s also pretty good against Splinter Twin which can steal Game 1 quite easily from you if you are not prepared for it. The Ethersworn Canonist is still main even after the banning of Seething Song and Bloodbraid Elf due to the damage it can wreck on Eggs game 1 still. If you Chord for Canonist in response to their first Second Sunrise, or
after they resolve a Reshape for 0 it will be extremely hard for Eggs to kill your Canonist as well as continue to go off in the chain, they have to have the Pyrite Spellbomb to get your Canonist off the board.

Izzet Staticaster is still around for the Jund match-up as well as neutralizing Twin’s ability to use Pestermite to go off, although I can understand at this point going back to using Cunning Sparkmage to ping your opponent. However, in the mirror you can pluck off multiple mana dorks for essentially free with Staticaster at once as opposed to the Sparkmage. Most lists also do not play the 3 basics that I have in my list, but if you want to Blood Moon your opponents out of the game as much as I did at the PTQ, at least have access to basic Forests and Plains. The Glen Elendra Archmage is also very strong in several match ups and can also be brought back along with fetches when your Eggs opponent casts one of their white recursion spells, just saying…

The sideboard I am definitely happy with, if there is a card I would cut for anything it would be the Dispel and possibly the Paths but I can see the use for these cards in the mirror match as well as other match ups I expected to see but did not play against. Rumor
has it that Angel’s Grace is still a pretty good sideboard card if you just need one extra turn to kill your opponent.

Round 1 GR Tron on the Play

When I sat down for round 1 I wanted to dodge the miserable pairing I had last Modern PTQ of Mono Red. I kept a strong hand against pretty much any opponent and my opponent kept his opener, I was relieved to see an Urzatron piece on the other side of the
table after his turn 1 but I knew I had to watch out for a surprise Turn 3 Karn or possible Eldrazi montrosities. I believe my opponent had various hate cards like Oblivion Stones and an assembled urzatron game one but I disposed of the Oblivion Stones and he did not
have a threat to match his massive mana and I was able to combo him out.

For sideboarding I bring in the Sowing Salts, Avalanche Riders, the additional Spellskite tofight artifact removal as well as the Magus of the Moon and the Ancient Grudges. I believe I took out the Staticaster, the Eternal Witness, 1 Kiki-Jiki, 1 Chord of Calling, a Wall of Roots, 1 Deceiver Exarch and the Ethersworn Canonist.

In game 2 my opponent again assembles the Urzatron but is only able to play an Oblivion Stone which he then activates to put a fate counter on his Relic of Progenitus which I Spellskite. I am then able to Sowing Salt away his Urza’s Towers forcing the game to go long if he wants to cast his Karns and Wurmcoil Engines that I see he has left in his deck, and I notice he does not have any Eldrazi in his deck at this point which is a big sigh of relief for me. This game starts to go awry as we both start to flood out and I know he has a Wurmcoil and a Karn in his hand which eventually join the table with a 2nd Wurmcoil and I’m stilldrawing lands off the top. Game 3 I keep a hand with multiple hate cards (2 Salts, a Grudge and a Magus) and 3 mana sources. I slam the Magus of the Moon on the board hoping he does not have a Pyroclasm in his hand and he starts to blow up his artifact mana to get green mana to draw more cards which is a good sign for me. I then realize that I have a basic forest and 1 shock in play with a Hierarch as my creature and I cannot actually cast these Salts in my hand, especially with the next card I draw being the basic Plains I have in my deck. However I am able to just get a bunch of creatures on board and am able to deal lethal in the air to my opponent through a possible Nature’s Claim on one of his artifacts.

1-0 Match Record 2-1 Game Record

Round 2 Jund

This is where my memory starts to get a little foggy. I won the die roll again against my opponent and we are off to the races, I play a fetchland getting a Forest and lead with a Birds of Paradise, which is promptly met with a Lightning Bolt from my opponent. With my opponent leading with a Blood Crypt and a Bolt I start to fear that I’m paired against a Mono Red opponent. This fear is alleviated when he eventually plays a Tarmogoyf, after I get a Wall of Roots on the board. We go back and forth for a little bit with removal until I am able to assemble the combo after he taps out to play a few creatures and only has green mana available to him.

Game 2 he starts to build up a strong board presence in which I am glad I bring in my Path to Exiles. My opponent eventually gets me to a low life total and he has a Huntmaster of the Fells that is about to transform, a Tarmogoyf, a Kitchen Finks and an active Deathrite Shaman, I have a Phantasmal Image copying his Kitchen Finks, a bunch of mana dorks, and a Birthing Pod in play. He targets my Image with the Ravager of the Fells transform trigger, which I put into the yard and he says I guess you go back to the life you were and I say sure. My opponent immediately realizes that he missed his chance to eat my Image with his Deathrite Shaman and I am able to Pod for Restoration Angel and cast the Zealous Conscripts in my hand to Pod the Angel away for Kiki-Jiki. However, even if he were to eat my Image I can still Conscripts his Finks Pod it away to get Angel, blink the Conscripts and get Kiki-Jiki for the combo win.

2-0 Match Record 4-1 Game Record

Round 3 Bant Control

I lose the die roll and we start our match, I am able to play turn 1 mana dork turn 2 Pod as my opponent sets up his mana. He taps out for a Kitchen Finks and I start to set up my Pod chain with a Murderous Redcap, he then taps out for Baneslayer Angel, and I cast a Deceiver Exarch tapping his Angel and assemble my combo for the win. Game 2 is a very weird one, he casts a turn 2 Blind Obedience I have a Spellskite to follow, he casts a Finks I have Harmonic Sliver for his Obedience (I personally don’t like Blind Obedience against the Kiki-Pod deck because I can Pod for creatures that can just kill it, while the UR Twin deck has to have the Echoing Truth on it), I cast a Pod he Naturalizes it on his turn since I cannot activate it, I cast another Spellskite after realizing I didn’t redirect the artifact removal to my other Spellskite which begins to lead the interesting plays. He misses a land drop and taps out to cast another Finks. I draw my card for the turn and notice I don’t have any nonbasic green mana in play, and the choice to cast a Finks or a Magus of the Moon. My opponent also doesn’t have any basic mana in play so I decide to slam the Magus on the board. With my Spellskites holding my life at a meager 8 and being able to block both his Finks as well as keeping my Magus alive the game slows down to a crawl as we both draw and discard for several turns in a row until I am able to draw the singleton forest with a Chord, Noble Hierarch, Restoration Angel and Birds of Paradise in my hand. I cast the Bird passing the turn he draws and discards again, I do nothing on my turn he plays another nonbasic land, I slam the Resto Angel on the board untap and with having 3 green sources (Bird, Forest and using the Harmonic Sliver to Convoke the Chord) I am able to tap my other 5 lands/creatures to get Kiki-Jiki and move to 3-0 in the PTQ.

Match Record 3-0 Game Record 6-1 Magus stealing wins: 2

Round 4 Mono Black Infect

Coming into this match I’m starting to get hit by nerves and probably keep a terrible hand as a result, I’m properly punished for this mistake as I flood out and my opponent has a threatening Liliana on the board about to ultimate, but I am infected fully by Inkmoth Nexus to end the game. In game 2 I keep a stronger hand and try to start to assemble my combo via Chord for Kiki-Jiki with an Eternal Witness and Resto Angel in play but the Kiki-Jiki is shot down in response to me copying an Angel, after the match my opponent lets me know that I probably win the game if I copy Eternal Witness getting Chord again and assembling another copy of the combo. The only other play to note in this match is that I am able to get an Avalanche Riders down killing one of his Inkmoth Nexus and in response to the echo trigger I attempt to blink the Riders with Restoration Angel but the Riders is shot down in response.

Match Record 3-1 Game Record 6-3

Round 5 5 Color Zoo

I win the die roll again and am greeted with a Steppe Lynx, I play a turn 2 Pod while my opponent plays a fetch land and cracks it making his Steppe Lynx a 4/5 then proceeds to give it double strike via Boros Charm and I’m already at a low 8 life. I’m able to stabilize with Kitchen Finks and Restorations Angels and eventually assemble the combo of 3/4 flyers to win.

In Game 2 I’m quickly ran over as I do not have the quickest hand in the world and am forced to make some bad blocks as a fear of the Boros Charm. In game 3 however I have a 2 lander, Hierarch, Path and double Baloth hand as a result of my first mulligan and am able to hold off my opponent’s Tarmogoyfs with my Baloths and am able to eventually punch through and kill him with these Baloths, even if I gave my opponent an extra turn by not attacking for 8 when he was at 8.

Match Record 4-1 Game Record 8-4

Round 6 Splinter Twin

Heading into this round I’m 10th in the standings and towards the top of the 12 pointers so I am pretty confident in that with a win I can draw into top 8. My opponent is the very bottom of the 12s however and will need to double win to make top 8 as a draw will most likely cut him out. I know my opponent is on Splinter Twin, and I do not believe that my opponent knows what I am playing however. I keep a slow hand and again am punished for it as he has Exarch+Twin for the win.

Game 2 I have a couple of hate cards and we go back and forth for a little bit, I lose a Pod and on his turn 5 after getting him to 8 he taps out for Kiki-Jiki in which I immediately respond with a Chord for 4 getting Linvala, this play is a little risky as if the Linvala gets bounced I’m just dead but if I allow the Kiki-Jiki to hit and in response to the first activation I can kill it with Murderous Redcap. The Linvala starts to attack and my opponent scoops as he does not have the Echoing Truth he needs in his deck.

In game 3 I have a bunch of hate cards in my hand (Spellskite, Path to Exile and Pridemage as well as an Image and an Exarch) as well as a bunch of shocks and a fetch in my hand. My first turn I play the fetch land as he plays a spellskite on 2 and I immediately fetch for a Plains to Path his Spellskite and play around a Blood Moon as well. This winds up biting me in the ass as if I have the Hallowed Fountain in my deck I am able to play my Exarch after he Splinter Twins it to tap it down then follow it up with a Zealous Conscripts on his creature to kill him with his own combo.

Round 7 RUG Control

This match up I’m basically playing for 6 extra packs and I’m playing rather loose. I promptly lose the match up pretty quickly and actually get a Pod activation Voidslime’d (GUU counter target spell, activated ability or triggered ability) and that about sums up how my day ends.

I really enjoyed playing this deck at the PTQ and am currently trying to figure out some ways to make the Twin match up a little bit easier, I’m also thinking about cutting the Mountain in the deck for a Breeding Pool as I’ve wanted to fetch for it plenty during the tournament. I should be playing deck one more time this Modern season this regardless of if it’s in the Flagstaff PTQ or the San Diego PTQ. Hope to see you there!